Welcome to CNET’s Love Syncs, an online dating column where we answer your questions on avoiding the pitfalls of online dating. I’m Erin Carson, staff reporter, resident young-enough-person, refrigerdating correspondent, curator of odd stuff on the internet, most likely to leave you on “read.”
Today we tackle one reader’s predicament upon finding her boyfriend on a fetish app.
Let’s get going… right after I explain my recent Google searches to IT.
Q: I have a boyfriend who’s the best in the world. He works as a consultant and we plan to have our wedding next year. But one day my friend sent me a message saying she saw my boyfriend on a dating app called Feter. I looked up the app and found it’s for BDSM. We do have great sex but I never thought he was into something like this. To be honest, I don’t know much about BDSM but I’m really not into it and I don’t want to try it. What should I do? Are we going to be re-enacting “Fifty Shades of Grey?”
A: Surprises are fun, aren’t they?! *LAUGHS LOUDLY AND NERVOUSLY*
Online dating is one new(ish) way to date, it’s also another avenue for folks to stray from relationships and, of course, get caught. Tech really does it all. If you dive into your memory banks from 2015, an unsettling study from GlobalWebIndex that said 42% of Tinder users were already in relationships. (Though Tinder took issue with the study’s sampling approach.) Because when it comes to online dating, let’s definitely heap on another scoop of ambiguity and uncertainty. Am I talking to a married dude? A robot? A MARRIED ROBOT WITH A MORTGAGE? Hard to say. Honestly, though, it’s great that you’ve got a pal who feels comfortable enough to deliver that sort of information.
Now, the question is what to do with this sparkling insight that doesn’t involve re-enacting some revenge-y country song. (Please don’t ever re-enact a revenge-y country song. The money I’d use for your bail is invested elsewhere, ok?)
To start, I will offer that there’s always a chance your friend found an old profile your boyfriend never deactivated (deleting an app isn’t the same thing as deleting an account) or that it’s a fake. However, Feter seems to have launched in April, so his profile likely isn’t an unearthed fossil from his single days.
Anyway. Let’s say you’ve already made yourself a cup of that sweet, sweet stress relief tea. The best approach you can take here is just to calmly talk to your boyfriend about what you found out. You have some information. You need more. Is he cheating? Chatting? Lurking? Is this a passing curiosity or an outright interest? Be ready to talk about what is acceptable within your relationship— or what’s a dealbreaker… because if he’s been cheating, the whole BDSM thing is an ancillary point.
That said, let’s talk about your question as to whether you guys are going to be like Fifty Shades of Grey.
*TAKES OFF GLASSES FOR MAXIMUM EYE CONTACT*
You don’t have to do a damn thing you don’t want to. Your desire not to partake in BDSM is every bit as valid as his inclination toward it. (It also might be worth noting that folks have taken issue with the Fifty Shades portrayal of BDSM, so that might not be the best foundation for research.) Still, please do not feel as if you have to get engulfed in your partner’s preferences. Again, this is something else to discuss. If he’s super into it and you’re not at all, can you guys find a way to navigate that?
Like a lot of relationship happenings, this issue comes down to communication. You guys are getting friggin’ married! (Take that, MORTGAGE ROBOT!) That’s a pretty long-range plan. It’s best to get clarity on all of this before you get tied up permanently.
CNET’s Love Syncs is an advice column focusing on online dating. If you’ve got a question about finding love via app, send it to [email protected] for consideration.